Feb. 14, 2017: The Green Ceiling, Victoria B.C., Canada. Approximately 7 pm
“Do you have a valid passport?”
“Uh, yeah. Where are we going?”
“San Francisco for the International Cannabis Business Conference.”
“Sounds awesome! Thank you! Hurray! When do we leave?”
“We are driving down in Nicole’s Prius and probably sleeping in it because – other than gas, ferry and food – we don’t have money.”
“But we do have media passes to the expo from Cannabis Life Network and I know how you like to write. Henry Rollins in the keynote speaker, Tommy Chong and John Salley are going to be there. It has policy makers and a lot of really interesting producers. Plus I am sure we will get to know people who may offer us a place to stay and, if not, what’s another night in the car? It says it’s just a 16 hours drive online.”
“Ash, you had me when you said the words International Cannabis.”
February 15. Still in Canada. 24 hours later
Everything is going according to plan. How joyful we are to get a discount on car-detailing due to the rain while we wait at the pre-border crossing. How easy it is getting on the ferry in this little hybrid car. Magnified from previously hearing a crew member pointing out an approaching storm, I feel extra cozy curling up on the passenger seat and watching the gentle rain lightly sprinkle on the windows.
Overnight Feb 16 – 17. Washington State
Confession time: This is my first road trip where I am driving a distance longer than two hours and, of course, I am keeping this information to myself. I have more than 10 years of driving experience, it is the nearly straight I-5 highway and it is my turn. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy…with the exception of this rain.
I am driving through a sky bath. The sky is just puking up sheets of water all over the car but thankfully I can still see twenty feet in front of me! We have to be in California by 6 pm tomorrow and we are NOT stopping. The trucks going by are huge and they keep soaking us as they pass. I know at some point we are going to get totally covered in water and I won’t be able to see anything at all for a few seconds. The plan is to stay calm, drive straight and then pull over to change my underwear.
Overnight Feb 16 – 17. Three hours later
It finally happens. We get soaked and I can’t see anything for at least three seconds thanks to the biggest truck I have ever seen passing really close on a really busy overpass. We pull over.
Feb 17. 8pm. Day 1 of the Conference – San Francisco
We are going to be murdered by our buddy when we get back home because we are missing keynote speaker Henry Rollins. Getting lost on the freeway is my new favorite pastime. We don’t have a hotel room booked (and honestly, don’t really have or want to spend the money on one) but we have managed to arrive at the VIP Party with Tommy Chong, Henry Rollins and John Salley.
Fifteen minutes after its supposed to end.
I am just going to say it: people who use cannabis are very nice people. Regardless of where you live or where you are from, if you use cannabis, you are probably a little nicer because of it. There, I said it, and it is just the way it is.
Obviously worn out from our journey, Ashley and I have the excellent fortune of meeting Ngaio and Chelsea. They immediately offer us a taste of the supreme bounty California gifts to the planet and boy did that Blue Dream taste like heaven.
Within minutes, Chelsea offers us a place to stay and smoke but warns it is a little far away. Sacramento sounds lovely and you only live once, so off we go!
Feb 18. 4:30am. Sacramento
I don’t need sleep because I am a fierce robot like the T1000 and so is Ashley. A cup of strong coffee, some O’Henry chocolate mix as per Ashley’s nutritious breakfast routine and my brain is ready to absorb everything. We park the car, hop on the BART line and prepare to fill our brains with cannabis.
Day 2 of the Conference – San Francisco
It never ceases to amaze me how often we unconsciously think our potential as human beings has limits until we discover something exciting and unfathomable. I find that here. Every panel, every booth and every person is bringing something to the table. I am feeling really excited and very inspired.
The issues that face both Canada and the USA have many similarities and differences. What is most extraordinary is that fact that when we come to each other with these triumphs and challenges, we can find easy solutions to achieve things that might have otherwise seemed unreachable.
Conference Pre-After Party
Ashley and I are head to a pre-after party hotel room party put on by the wonderful people of True Humboldt. We are fed fresh San Francisco staples and smoke endless amounts of pre-rolls that our host just keeps passing to us. On top of that, we get at least three separate offers to stay with some really kind people. Despite the fact that it’s a party, I can’t help but notice this one girl sitting on her laptop, working away in the middle of the room. I have to give serious credit to all the hard-working people down in California and when I mention this to her, she shrugs it off. Rachel tells me she is just doing what she loved and has managed to turn her graphic-design talents into a successful company thanks to the cannabis industry. I’m smiling inside and out because I know exactly what she means.
Pier 23 After Party
It is so nice to be able to see so many people relaxed and chilling out, especially those who were working so hard today. Everyone loves live Resin down in California and I can see why after a few samples. As I don’t like alcohol very much, this very kind gentleman drops some cannabis terpenes into my soda pop and I am grateful for it. Terp drinks are a new concept and I really enjoy it. As I’m sipping of my drink, I notice a pretty, blonde lady smiling at me from across the room. She is Lori of Southern Oregon NORML, a true grassroots activist and inspiration to those fighting this cause. Within five minutes, Lori introduces us to Radical Russ Belville and invites us to stay at the Delta 9 activist house in Portland, Oregon.
The Delta 9 house is there for activists in this industry who need a place to stay due to having big hearts, big mouths and/or no money. Within 20 minutes, we are heading to the BART line to get the car, where we bump into Chelsea, who offers us a place for the night and a full-size roller each of her first place Emerald Cup topical. I thought Canadians have a reputation for being nice people but I was starting to feel like a jerk compared to all this kindness. Despite this outrageously nice offer, we don’t want to impose and want to hit the road asap. We say our goodbyes, drive 30 minutes before realizing we are exhausted and decide to sleep a few hours in the car. Naturally, we head to the parking lot at Walmart. (Sorry mom, I know you are freaking out if reading this). Before I fall asleep, I see a monkey running around the parking lot and climbing a tree. I swear. Ashley isn’t awake and so doesn’t see it. I don’t know if they have monkeys in Sacramento and I kinda doubt they do, but I saw one.
We wake up, get coffee and hit the I-5. Then we hit a flood.
Apparently all the rain we drove through is not a normal amount and parts of the freeway are now completely washed out. Police are waving cars through. We figure because what is a foot and a half of water going to do to a little Prius? Gently wash it, that’s what. I drive through that flood like a boss and Ashley takes a video so we can freak out everyone back home.
Feb 19. Back in Oregon
Oregon is an amazing state and the Delta 9 house absolutely rocks. The landlord will only rent his place out to people who are involved in the cannabis industry for the right reasons and I love that! We stay up late sharing ideas, information, debating facts and showing each other all that our collective experience has to offer. The warmth and willingness to help anyone who is suffering from lack of cannabis access can be felt in every inch of this house.
Feb 20. The Dank Ass Party
One of the coolest experiences of this trip is meeting everyone at the Dank Ass Party. Lining the backyard, hallways and rooms of their home, Trish and Jay host a renegade farmers market every week. Talking to as many people as possible, jotting notes as fast as I can, smoking as quickly as possible, I take it all in knowing that my pen won’t leave the page when I write about this place later. Radical Russ takes us all around the area after the party; the perfect day to end an amazing adventure.
Feb 21. Heading home
Thank God Canada technically has to let us across the border because I know I smell like weed. On top of things as usual, Ashley has us pull over to decontaminate. We put the last of our American money into the gas tank to avoid any more currency exchanges and topping it up a whopping $3.07. The look from the cashier is priceless when she discovers what big spenders we were. After having an amazing adventure, meeting and connecting with a lot of incredible people and learning a lot, Ashtree and I cross back into Canada with a dozen Voodoo Doughnuts in the back seat.